The 8th World Day of Families, to be held in Philadelphia from September 22-27, 2015, was presented today in the Holy See Press Office. The theme of the event will be: “Love is our mission: the family fully alive”.
Intervening in the press conference were the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, OFM; the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and the Riley family, made up of father Thomas, mother Barbara and their two young children, Penelope and Vincent.
The Archbishop of Philadelphia pointed out that the catechesis of the 8th Meeting will be carried out in 10 steps, beginning with Creation and entering into the nature of human sexuality, living together in marriage, the importance of children, the role of religious in ecology and the Christian community, the Christian family as refuge, the role of the Church, and the Christian family as missionary in the world.
Archbishop Paglia said “a virtuous circle” would be created from now until next October, with a series of initiatives “which will culminate with the event of Philadelphia, and which will have an impact in the United States and the world.”
“During the last week some 20,000 participants will frequent an immense center of conferences and a series of events, to which individuals of other religions are also invited,” noted the Italian archbishop.
Family and Poverty will be one of the preparatory topics, in collaboration with Caritas Internationalis and its president, Cardinal Maradiaga, added Archbishop Paglia. He indicated that work is also being done to bring to the synod the texts of the Magisterium – a 3,500-page dossier that includes documents on marriage, family and life from the Council of Florence to Pope Francis.
Archbishop Paglia said that, in the framework of the 8th Meeting, on September 27 of next year Pope Francis will receive grandparents and elderly people. Included in the latter will be two elderly from Kurdistan who lost everything, to make the absurdity of war understood. The Pope will hand them Mark’s Gospel, written in large letters to help them. Mass will be concelebrated with around 100 elderly priests.
He added that on September 28, 2015, there will be a meeting of numerous families in Rome because “there are millions of families that keep the Church and society alive, and these families are on the front line.”
Also to be held will be a meeting of all Family Movements 22-24 January, so that their opinions can be debated and enriched before the final stage of the synod on the Family in October of 2015 — because it is a question of “helping families in their concrete reality,” he concluded. On 24 March, the anniversary of the publication of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium vitae”, a prayer vigil will be held in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major.
In his presentation Archbishop Chaput commented on Philadelphia’s deep religious roots and expressed his hope that Pope Francis may be present at next year’s meeting, at which between ten and fifteen thousand people from all over the world are expected to attend. He also explained that the theme of the Meeting was based on St. Irenaeus’ famous words, “the Glory of God is man fully alive”. “In like manner, the glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves. Life in a family is a summons to embody that love in everyday life”.
The event in Philadelphia will be accompanied by an official document. He said the catechesis “will help parish and diocesan leaders, catechists and other interested persons prepare Catholics across the globe for next year’s meeting..
“The text gives us a foundation for all of the different programming that will go into the World Meeting of Families”, continued Archbishop Chaput, “from major talks, to panels and breakout sessions, to family entertainment throughout the event. The text is currently available in English and Spanish. Portuguese, French and other language editions are planned this fall through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The catechesis also includes the special prayer we commissioned to prepare for the 2015 gathering”.
In addition, a specially-commissioned oil painting will be displayed in Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul throughout the World Meeting. By the artist Neil Carlin, it represents the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – along with Mary’s parents, Sts. Anne and Joachim. “They are a reminder that, today and throughout history, the Christian family includes both the young and the elderly; it reaches beyond parents and child to include grandparents and many other extended relations”.
Finally, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family revealed that every day until the opening of the Synod (5 October) on the site www.familia.va, there will be a special edition of “Jarà – the spectacle of life”, which will present through words and images the main themes of the synod and explain how they figure in the Instrumentum Laboris.
During the assembly there will be a weekly note presenting and summarising the work of the Synod fathers. All this will be supplemented with exclusive interviews with bishops and experts.